I asked a friend who is an architect how business was going. He said it was fine except that he had a cash-flow problem because people weren’t paying him fast enough.
Then he smiled and said, “Of course, I don’t bill them right away either.”
“How long do you wait until you bill them?” I asked.
He again. “Oh, about three months after I’ve completed the work.”
“You do your clients no favors.” I said. “People who don’t get billed for three months have already forgotten about that debt because they are on to making new ones. And then when your bill comes, they have to stop and figure out how to make a payment to you.”
“So why do you think I procrastinate?” my friend asked.
“Maybe you have a problem with charging people for services,” I said, “and you don’t think you’re worthy of the money. You’d be surprised how many professionals grapple with this issue.”
“That’s interesting,” he replied. “Have you any other ideas as to why I procrastinate?”
“Maybe you like the stimulation that comes from living on the brink of financial trouble. Or you are testing people to see if they will call and ask about the bill.”
“Why else do you think I procrastinate?” urged my friend.
Not able to resist, I went on, for I like to play, “I’m only trying to help you.”
“Maybe you had a parent that procrastinated and modeled for you that way of behaving. You just never learned how to be a self-starter. Or you procrastinate because that’s the way you learned to express your anger. Procrastination is passive-aggressive behavior, you know.”
“But what do you think is the real, underlying reason for my procrastination?” my friend queried.
“Maybe you’re not supposed to be more successful than your father, so you procrastinate to keep yourself less successful. Or you’re afraid to fail, so you don’t complete a project.”
“Why else?” he demanded.
“Could it be,” I mused, “that always asking ‘why’ is in itself a form of procrastination?”
“Let’s change the subject,” laughed my good-natured friend.
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